The timing of Josie’s challenge is an extra tribute to her grandma – fondly known as Nanny Pat – as it sits between her completing her undergraduate degree and the graduation ceremony for a subject that Nanny Pat encouraged her to swap to.
Pat died of pancreatic cancer in 2017 after just a few months after she was diagnosed. Says Josie: “Her diagnosis, and the shock that I might lose her made me think about how fickle life is and how unhappy I was with the choices I had made up until that point. I’d started university studying sociology, but it quickly became clear that this was a mistake. During one of our final conversations before she died, I told her that I was miserable and that attending the university rock climbing club made me realise that I was actually very passionate about geology. I’d thought about swapping degrees but was anxious about what people might think.
“She squeezed my hand tightly, told me to go for it and to hell with what anyone thought. She made me promise to always follow the path that would bring me joy. So it’s because of her I’m about to graduate with a degree in geology, which I loved every minute of! I’m currently on an internship with Friends of the Earth and plan to start a PhD in 2024. It was Nanny Pat who gave me the confidence to take that first step that’s led to all of this, and now I like to think that I’ll be taking over 1.72 million steps for her.”
“She was such a cool nan,” Josie says. “She bought a PlayStation so she could play games with her grandchildren and really got hooked! We have so many wonderful memories from throughout our childhood, we loved her line dancing in the kitchen at Halloween, the haircuts, never-ending cups of tea, the best pancakes, the insistent pressing of coins into our hands when we visited and the infinite amount of pride she had for us all. We miss her enormously.”
Josie intends to wild camp on her solo journey south and has even undertaken a bushcraft course “just in case I need to light a fire and forage”. She’s even practised making fire using the fur gleaned from grooming her pet cat, Panther! Once she hits the Midlands, she hopes to be joined for a while by friends and her partner, Evie.
“I’ll probably stay on in Cornwall for a few days once I’ve finished, and reminisce about holidays we had here with Nanny Pat. I have a fond memory of being with her at Land’s End and her telling me that was the finishing point for people who walked from one end of Great Britain to the other. I think she’d be really proud to know that I’m doing exactly that for her.”
You can read more about Josie’s fundraiser on her GoFundMe page here.